29 January 2011

Flood Update: Goodna worker burned in relief effort

WHAT started as an optimistic mission to rally help for flood victims ended in disaster for a 27-year-old father of two.

Leigh Fleet and his business partner Martin Upton decided to help people in Goodna after the floods wrecked their suburb.

It went well until a high pressure water cleaner, or gurney, caught fire and badly burned Mr Fleet.

"We opened the Ifeelgood24/7 express health club at Indooroopilly last September and called it that because we wanted people to feel good and not just look good and we wanted to do good in people's lives," Mr Upton said.

"When the floods happened we thought it was an opportunity to be what we wanted to be.

"We hired gurneys and other equipment and drove out there in a ute.

"We found a lot of other volunteers were attracted to us. We had 20 to 30 people working with us.

"A lot of those people are now friends for life.

"We called our group 'Home Beautiful' and cleaned people's houses in such a way that we gave them something to be proud to come home to.

"You could see in people's eyes that they knew we cared."

But that idealism changed in an instant last Friday.

"On the last day one of the gurneys was being refuelled and because it was so hot it caught fire and the 20-litre drum of fuel caught fire too," Mr Upton said.

"Amazingly, Leigh jumped off the veranda and did a commando roll but he was badly burned.

"A retired firefighter was across the road and he ran into the house when everyone was running out and grabbed the petrol can and stopped fuel from slopping out and being much worse and put out the fire."

Mr Fleet was rushed to Royal Brisbane Hospital in a critical condition with serious burns to his legs.

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